Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


Letter from Davie Kirkwood to editor of Forward, 9 Oct 1915

image from Red Clydeside collection

The support which the skilled munitions workers gave to the rent strikes and the campaign for rent restrictions was crucial in helping to achieve victory in the housing disputes of 1915. The threat of industrial action allied to further disruptions in the manufacture and delivery of armaments undoubtedly effected the governments thinking when it passed the Rent Restrictions Act in December 1915.

This was highlighted in the case of threatened strike action by the workers at Beardmores and also in the case of shipbuilding workers at Govan, a major shipbuilding district in Glasgow. In the winter of 1915 several tenants in this district were summoned to the courts for non-payment of increased rents. In protest at this action local shipyards stopped work and workers marched to the court in a mass show of solidarity with the rent strikers. At court, the cases were dropped and rents tied to their pre-war level.

The author of this letter, Davie Kirkwood, was a prominent ILP member and CWC shop steward in the Beardmores steel works in Parkhead. He would later be deported from Glasgow to Edinburgh for his role in the dilution disputes in 1916.

Source: Gallacher Memorial Library, Glasgow Caledonian University Special Collections and Archives